© 2014 – philip vergeylen – all rights reserved.
For years now, I have been trying to convince most of my fellow photographers of the importance of the presence of shadows and dark areas in my photography. But until now, I always got the answer that I’d better use HDR to lighten up the shadows to obtain a more ‘balanced’ photo.
I have to admit that I have never used HDR, and I don’t feel the need to do so. For me, light is extremely important, and most of the photographers kill the light in their photo’s by putting a HDR sauce over it.
Last year, I found the book In Praise of Shadows by the Japanese novelist Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. The book is an essay about aesthetics, about the quality of light and about the importance of shadows. The author discusses traditional Japanese aesthetics in contrast with change. Comparisons of light with darkness are used to contrast Western culture and the Culture of Japan. The essay acts as a classic description of the collision between the shadows of traditional Japanese interiors and the dazzling light of the modern age. Tanizaki’s observations include cultural notes on topics such as arts and crafts, paper making, lacquerware design and the Japanese room.
I advised several of my fellow photographers to read this book, hoping they would finally understand what I’m telling with my photography. Unfortunately, as far as I know, none of them did take the time to read it.
If you like a good (and short) read, this essay is something for you. I’m convinced that after reading it, you’ll think twice before opening your HDR software.
The photo of the two candles was made in Chùa Bà Thiên Hậu (The Pagoda of the Lady Thien Hau), a Chinese temple located on Nguyen Trai Street in the Cho Lon (Chinatown) district of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The temple is dedicated to Thiên Hậu, the Lady of the Sea.